Sonny Perdue Is Sole Finalist to Lead Georgia’s Public Universities

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Georgia’s public college system mentioned on Tuesday that former Gov. Sonny Perdue was its sole finalist to grow to be chancellor, a selection that has outraged some professors and led a regional company to threaten the accreditation of the 26-school system.

The probably appointment of Mr. Perdue, a Republican, comes throughout a unstable time in Georgia politics, with the State Legislature contemplating a number of payments that might ban, or restrict, how race and activism are taught within the classroom.

“A chancellor’s job is to defend the system in opposition to such payments,” mentioned Matthew Boedy, a rhetoric and composition professor on the College of North Georgia and the president of the Georgia convention of the American Affiliation of College Professors. “I can’t think about Sonny Perdue doing that.”

The affiliation has publicly condemned how the college system chosen Mr. Perdue, a course of that largely occurred in conferences with out college enter and closed to the general public.

Mr. Perdue served two phrases as governor from 2003 to 2011, and later turned Secretary of Agriculture underneath President Donald J. Trump. He wouldn’t be the primary governor to maneuver into academia: Former Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona, a Democrat, later ran the College of California system, and former Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana has led Purdue College since 2012.

“Governor Perdue stood out for his spectacular expertise and management in public service in addition to an enormous understanding not solely of Georgia and its communities however of the problems going through the college system as we transfer ahead,” Harold Reynolds, the chair of the Board of Regents, mentioned in a press release on Monday.

Mr. Perdue, a graduate of the College of Georgia, mentioned he thought-about the chance to guide the college system, which has greater than 340,000 college students, because the capstone to a profession of public service.

“Larger training is the place I needed to have an actual influence as governor, solely to be stymied by twin recessions,” he mentioned within the board-issued assertion.

In April, earlier than the Board of Regents chosen Mr. Perdue, the Southern Affiliation of Schools and Colleges Fee on Schools despatched it a warning letter stating that the appointment of a former governor may “place the accreditation of the establishment(s) they govern in jeopardy.”

If a school loses accreditation, warned the company’s president, Belle S. Wheelan, it may trigger enrollment declines, result in unhealthy publicity and revoke the college’s entry to federal cash.

Revoking accreditation to varsities together with the College of Georgia, Fort Valley State and Georgia Southern can be a monumental step. However the risk is a part of the newest controversy for the Board of Regents, which in October authorised a brand new coverage the place universities can hearth tenured professors with little to no college enter.

The coverage, in line with the American Affiliation of College Professors, is the one certainly one of its sort within the nation.

That call and the number of Mr. Perdue are each intrusions on tutorial freedom, Mr. Boedy, the College of North Georgia professor, mentioned. It’s “one other loss of life, wound, stab within the coronary heart for anyone that works within the college system to have somebody like this,” he mentioned.

Mr. Perdue’s appointment as chancellor would additionally restrict his contributions to the marketing campaign of David Perdue, his cousin and a former senator who’s working in opposition to Gov. Brian Kemp in Could’s Republican major.

Mr. Kemp had obtained Mr. Trump’s endorsement in 2018, however their relationship deteriorated following the Kemp administration’s refusal to undermine Georgia’s presidential election leads to 2020.

Sonny Perdue had campaigned on his cousin’s behalf throughout David Perdue’s 2020 re-election marketing campaign, which he narrowly misplaced to Senator Jon Ossoff.

Stephanie Saul contributed reporting.

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